Advertisers Could Pay in Facebook Blunder

Advertisers Could Pay in Facebook Blunder

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Facebook sold over 50 million users’ private information to Cambridge Analytica, a political ad firm.

Facebook made a giant political mistake could cost advertisers their much-needed target audiences.

Earlier this week, the world discovered that Facebook sold the private data of 50 million+ users to the political ad firm Cambridge Analytica. This firm was hired in 2016 by the Trump Campaign to gain access to personalities of American voters. With the data, they could influence their attitudes and behaviors.

Cambridge Analytica is funded largely by Robert Mercer, a Republican donor, and Stephen Bannon, one of President Trump’s former advisors. Bannon was at the firm in its early stages and helped give Cambridge its name.

The Difference in Targeting and Selling Facebook Ads

Facebook is widely regarded as one of the main forms of advertising after the decline of traditional media. Social media is lucrative for gathering advertising data, and Facebook is the biggest of them all.

Businesses can select from a range of audience lists to pinpoint their demographic including: location, age, gender, education level, school, field of study, houshold-income and interests such as entertainment, people, and travel. 

So you may be thinking, “What’s the difference between this and giving data to Cambridge Analytica?”

So glad you asked.

When advertisers target people, they don’t see the physical data of each person they are targeting. They are casting a wide net so to speak. They’re simply stating in their ad who they would like their ad to be seen by and then a bidding process ensues based on budget.

What Facebook did is sell the specific, personal and private data of over 50 million users (which is stated as private in their privacy policy). This would allow the Trump Campaign to specifically target known individuals, not just select the type/range of people and hope it gets seen.

Why this Will Hurt Your Advertisements on Facebook

After the news of this data sell came out, outraged citizens and Congress began calling out Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress. If lawmakers get their way, they will begin to impose regulations on the social media giant and the use of their data.

Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, basically called online political advertising the Wild West and urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would bring transparency and accountability to online political ads.

This could mean that advertisers will have an even harder time reaching their target audience if data is kept out of reach.

Nowhere Else to Go

Facebook boasts 2 billion-plus users, over half a billion more than the next social competitor: YouTube. When it comes to e-commerce advertising, you just can’t beat them with their numbers and reach.

Instagram is gaining traction after YouTube to sell ads, but really, it’s nowhere near (nor ever will be) close to Facebook.

While we may understand as individuals what Facebook did is wrong, it can be very worrisome for businesses if they come under strict scrutiny and regulation.


Here is a list of apps and websites that have access to your Facebook data.

Learn how to delete your Facebook entirely.


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